House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Bloc MP for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 29% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Replacement Workers March 11th, 2009

Madam Speaker, when the anti-scab legislation was introduced in Quebec in 1977, I was part of the process because of my profession. I can tell you that I witnessed the evolution, the change in labour relations and negotiations during strikes and lockouts. Today, as my colleague pointed out, labour relations in Quebec continue to improve.

I have a question for my colleague. What is the Quebec business community reaction to the anti-scab legislation?

Business of Supply March 5th, 2009

Madam Speaker, my question will be very brief. The last two Conservative speakers, once again completely out of touch with reality, did not read the motion, which is substantiated by extensive consultation and supported by over two million Canadian workers. In other words, it truly reflects what people want.

I would like to ask the member who they consulted to reach that conclusion. Or did they simply consult each other?

Business of Supply March 5th, 2009

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Chambly—Borduas for his excellent presentation. Once again, the minister of state has made it clear just how out of touch the Conservatives are. They are talking about businesses instead of talking about the people affected by this crisis: the working men and women who suffer every day, who grow poorer day by day, who cannot, on a daily basis, make ends meet for their families.

The NDP motion is a response to the demands of over two million workers. The members of the Canadian Labour Congress have been making these demands for a long time. I do not know who the Conservatives consulted, but I am concerned because they clearly did not consult the workers affected by the crisis.

I would like to ask my colleague a question about job creation. Currently, massive layoffs are happening everywhere: in parts manufacturing, in aerospace, and in automobile and bus manufacturing. As my colleague pointed out, programs like POWA and work sharing can help workers and employers make it through the crisis because workers are the ones with the expertise. That is my question for my colleague.

Business of Supply March 5th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I am directing this to the Conservative member. His speech is completely out of touch with reality. They should have consulted the workers' unions, but in Quebec the Conservatives did not consult any labour representatives. So I do not feel bad about belittling their phony consultations that have lead them to introduce such a bill.

The NDP motion is interesting: it reflects the position of Quebec, the Canadian Labour Congress and more than 2 million workers in Canada.

When the member says that their consultations are an accurate reflection of working people, he is completely out of touch with reality and he needs to realize that.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009 February 27th, 2009

Madam Speaker, I believe that culture played an important role in the last election campaign. Unfortunately, the Conservatives denied, and continue to deny, how important culture is.

Economically, it represents 300,000 jobs in Quebec, which is a significant number. Unfortunately, the Conservative government at the time, just like the Liberals today, are brushing artists aside with the budget for various reasons—

Budget Implementation Act, 2009 February 27th, 2009

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question. It is clear when we look at what the Conservatives and Liberals have been proposing with this budget for the past number a weeks, there is nothing there to help workers. Absolutely nothing.

The waiting period plays an important role and, as he mentioned, accessibility is a significant issue. Currently, only approximately 40% of workers can access employment insurance. Unfortunately, the members from the opposite side of the House are telling us that by impoverishing workers we are helping both the workers and the economy. In my opinion, we will not manage to do anything by impoverishing the unemployed. We will do something when we help them.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009 February 27th, 2009

Madam Speaker, as I was saying, POWA is a program that was cut by the Liberals; the Conservatives have restored very little of it. In the current crisis, many older workers are being hit hard because of huge layoffs. These workers cannot yet apply for their pensions. This type of program would allow them to retain their dignity until they begin receiving the pension normally provided by their company.

Unfortunately, POWA, as it stands, gives absolutely nothing to older workers. With regard to employment insurance, workers not only in Quebec but also in Canada have been asking for some time for 360 hour eligibility rules, easier access, increased benefits—

Budget Implementation Act, 2009 February 27th, 2009

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his question and comments.

As you know, in Quebec we are different and our claims are different. Perhaps you have not often visited Quebec. You have not spoken to people in Quebec and you unfortunately have few MPs—

Budget Implementation Act, 2009 February 27th, 2009

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to Bill C-10 on the Bloc Québécois' behalf.

I feel that I have to briefly review the situation. Last fall, we were given a throne speech and economic statement that were ideological, empty, antisocial, anti-union, anti-women and anti-youth. The Conservatives often question the opposition's usefulness. At the time, had we not created a coalition, we would not have had a budget, and the Prime Minister would be doing whatever he pleased today and would have used the money however he liked.

So we formed a coalition. The Bloc Québécois was one of the only ones to recommend a stimulus package addressing several demands from Quebec to the government. I have to emphasize that because Quebec is important to the Bloc Québécois. There was a lot of pressure. The Conservatives were afraid of losing their limousines and their privileges, so the Prime Minister rushed over to Michaëlle Jean's place to ask for prorogation. That slowed things down considerably, and now they are trying to say that the NDP and the Bloc Québécois are preventing this budget from passing, even though the Conservatives themselves are the ones who engineered this situation in the first place.

I want to emphasize, once again, that Quebeckers gave all of the Bloc Québécois members sizeable majorities in their ridings so that we could work for Quebec.

From Quebec's perspective, this budget will take away a billion dollars this year, and a billion dollars next year because of equalization. That is $2 billion. That is a lot of money to Quebec. That money would have been spent on health and education, and we all know how important having an educated and healthy population is to a province, to a nation. A healthy, educated population is an important factor in economic development.

When investors are figuring out where to invest, they look for places with educated people and good health systems. To them, those are indicators that they should invest in Quebec. The Canadian divisions of GM, Ford and Chrysler have always said that health and education systems are among their primary criteria when investing.

I have no doubt that the Bloc will continue to fight hard for justice in terms of the fiscal imbalance. For years, we have been asking for the money Quebec is entitled to, and we will continue to do so. Unfortunately, this year's budget includes some serious cuts.

Giving $170 million to Canada's manufacturing and forestry industries is a joke. That barely represents 22% for Quebec. It is nothing in terms of a major economic investment. These industries are in crisis and need financial assistance more than ever. Unfortunately, the Conservative government is refusing to give them the help they need in order to develop.

We are seeing layoffs in Quebec at Pratt & Whitney, Bombardier, Kenworth and Prévost Car. We are also seeing the attitude of this Conservative government and the Liberals who are supporting this budget. Who got the contracts for the latest military trucks? An American company. Six to eight hundred jobs could have been saved in Quebec and Canada at other truck manufacturing plants, yet they refused to award the contracts to Canadian workers. Military buses could have been built by Prévost Car, Nova Bus or New Flyer, in Winnipeg. These companies could have made the buses, but the contract was awarded to a German company. The contracts for new rescue planes will be awarded to American companies, but that significant economic boost should have been given to Quebec. As usual, we got nothing but crumbs.

The Bloc is always accused of asking questions. They are good questions. It is an intelligent way of demanding things for Quebec instead of being content to blather on about newspapers or laughing from the other side of the House about the work the Bloc has been doing for many years. That is why we are re-elected in election after election.

The same is true in the parts sector. Every riding in Quebec has seen major layoffs, including the ridings in which Conservative members were elected. They are not concerned about it, though, because they only care about their own interests. But there have been major layoffs in that sector. The Bloc Québécois has been making serious demands from this side of the House, and clearly, we will continue to do so.

The aerospace industry is one of the motors of Quebec's industrial sector in terms of economic development. It is being gradually shut down by the lack of proper support. Immediate investments must be made in this sector in order to ensure the industry's future in Quebec over the next 15 years. The current government is doing nothing to help it.

As for employment insurance, tens of thousands of workers have been laid off and they need to receive money right away, without the two week waiting period. Over 40% of these workers have access to employment insurance. The Conservative government and the Liberals prefer to add five weeks to the end of the benefits period, although we know that this will affect very few people.

The Bloc Québécois introduced a bill recently, Bill C-308, to improve the employment insurance system. In a crisis situation, the employment insurance fund becomes an important economic tool. We must allow workers to benefit from it, whether through an assistance program for older workers or through work sharing. We would like to extend the latter by more than a year, in order to keep the expertise in the factories and allow employers to have it when work resumes. Unfortunately, it was decided to extend it for only a short time.

A number of factories in Quebec and the Quebec City region have major problems, and they do not have access to work sharing. In the short term, the most recent improvement does nothing to help the workers in that sector.

The new coalition of the Liberals and the Conservatives continues to make its mark by attacking workers. Consider the federal government's position with regard to its own employees. The Conservatives and the Liberals decided to legislate to take away their right to strike and to bargain. More than 100,000 public service workers have already approved a collective agreement in good faith. Others had negotiated a collective agreement with a 2.5% salary increase. The government decided to take money out of their pockets retroactively to stimulate the economy. This government is creating a climate of insecurity in the federal bureaucracy, and workers are neither happy nor satisfied. A private sector employer or multinational would never dare do such a thing, because it would lose important expertise.

I could talk about pay equity, but my colleague spoke at length about it. It is completely unacceptable to attack women in this way. This is being felt in Quebec and all across Canada.

Having made cuts in this area, the government is handing out tax breaks. Many economists are saying that it is a huge mistake to make tax reductions that will do nothing. People are saving much more than they are spending at present. Workers who have lost their jobs need money. The billions of dollars in tax reductions should be invested to save jobs and build an economy.

In conclusion, the Bloc Québécois will keep on fighting for Quebec as it has always done. It is the only party that fights for Quebec in this House. The other members from Quebec, who sit opposite, do not do anything. They support a budget like this one, which hurts Quebec. We will keep on building Quebec.

Regional Patriote of 2008 February 6th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, the Jean-Olivier-Chénier section of the Montreal Saint-Jean-Baptiste society recently awarded the title of regional Patriote for 2008 at the Saint-Eustache Maison du citoyen.

This title was awarded to Mr. Jules Théorêt, a long-time activist, who for many years was involved in a union defending the collective rights of workers.

Mr. Théorêt was obviously pleased to be receiving the honour of regional Patriote for 2008 and he captivated the audience with a passionate and forthright speech. He thanked those who toil for social justice and respect for workers' rights.

At this gathering, Mr. Théorêt expressed his hope “that all Quebeckers will become Patriotes. In these times of economic and political crisis, we must show solidarity.”

I would personally like to congratulate Mr. Théorêt on receiving this honour.